Since Otar Left

Home bodies
photo: Kimstim/Kino on Video

Finally, can we canonize Otar Iosseliani, the Paris-stationed, Georgian-expat master of human ceremonies who has been building one of the world's most sublime filmographies, under the Soviet thumb and after, largely out of American purview? Call him the heir to Renoir and Tati, but Iosseliani is also a contemporary of Tarkovsky's and Muratova's, and an equal master at hyperextended mise-en-scéne. But his vision of contemporary life, however bound with economic tension, is warm, wry, sardonic, and almost Buddhist—never a ticket to global cine-culture genuflection. Call it the comedy of flow, epitomized by Farewell, Home Sweet Home (1999), a hypnotic, distanced farce about French class envy that observes its characters' folly and fate and the masterful performance by a giant Marabou stork with perfect timing, like a patient boulevardier on his second glass of Pernod. The well-acclaimed Monday Morning (2002) may be his crowning achievement so far, a scathing and obliquely hilarious satire of wage slavery and its discontents that always allows you to find your own sense of life in the frame. DVD pluses: interviews, trailers, bios.

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